Old money is the target of a calculating stalker in this engrossing thriller.
The target in this mystery by Nordstrom (Reflections in Gold, 2009, etc.) is Amy Granville Fontaine, the heir to a Northwest lumber fortune. At the novel’s start, divorcée Amy is gaining a sterling reputation as a painter of seascapes in the greater Portland, Oregon, area. She soon meets art critic Harold Gorman, a widower whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. The two are soon discussing the nature of Amy’s work: “It’s a somber observation, but I wonder what direction your work might have taken had you not become so familiar with the tension between darkness and light,” says Hal. They quickly become close, to the dismay of Amy’s daughter, Monique; Monique’s boyfriend, Ralph; and Amy’s friend Diane Demaris, a gallery owner. All are concerned with Harold’s intentions toward the heiress. As Diane tells her, “You are a very eligible, and extremely desirable divorcée. For some men, there’s never ‘enough money.’ Think about it.” Shortly after the pair announces their engagement, strange things start to happen at Pelican Rest, Amy’s vacation home in coastal Oregon. At first, it’s a strange man’s face in her front window, but the incidents become increasingly violent, unsettling Amy. Since the stalker seems to know her every move, every male around her is a suspect. Amy eventually stops being a victim and goes on the offensive, leading to a terrifying climax. Nordstrom does an admirable job limning Amy’s rarified world and creates believably flawed characters. He slowly intensifies the suspense, so readers can well understand Amy’s mounting fear (it’s not paranoia if people are out to get you). One drawback is that the stalker’s identity becomes evident early, but while the reader may have a good idea what’s going on, none of the characters ever do until it’s too late. An element of doubt lingers right through to the end of this captivating thriller.
A top-notch mystery with ever escalating suspense and a satisfying payoff.